Spotlight of the Week: Dusty Pockets

Dusty Pockets is the solo project of Jeffrey Salczenko. Originally a jazz artist, he has been breaking into the Milwaukee music scene as a singer-songwriter the last few years.

ME: How did you get involved in Wisconsin Music Ventures?

JEFF: I have a mentor that had suggested it who was a friend of Allison’s. He said that it’d be great as far as getting my own thing going and getting connected with other musicians so I decided to check it out!

ME: Awesome. It’s all about who you know sometimes.

JEFF: It really is, yeah (laughs).

ME: Where does the name Dusty Pockets come from?

JEFF: I’m a painting contractor, and a couple years ago I was working with my old boss when I’d reached into my pocket to grab my phone and it was full of drywall dust. I had been doing the music thing on the side for a while, and my boss said that “Dusty Pockets” would be a good stage name. I said “you know what, I think that works” because the music I’ve been working on is acoustic guitar-Johnny Cash-bluegrass and singer-songwriter type stuff. I think Dusty Pockets gives the feeling that I’m going for.

ME: Sounds like it was just one of those “a-ha!” moments!

ME: Where are you based?

JEFF: Milwaukee.

ME: What’s been your favorite place to play?

JEFF: Well, I’ve been going to Linneman’s every Wednesday for their open mic as part of my commitment to getting back into the scene. Next Wednesday (the 2nd) I’m actually featuring there so I get a half hour slot. Playing there has really been getting me connected and I’ve gotten a couple gigs out of it so far.

ME: That’s a great place to start! Jim is a great guy.

ME: Who are some of your biggest influences?

JEFF: I have a wide variety. I went to school at UWM for jazz, and actually my first influence was my teacher Steve Peplin.

ME: He’s great!

JEFF: Yeah, I was 13 or 14 years old and he was playing at the Academy of Music in Menomonee Falls at the time. A buddy of mine took bass lessons from him when I heard him play and seeing how he played the guitar was amazing…the way he took it so seriously as an art form let me feel like it could be viable. In the jazz world I loved Wes Montgomery a lot; I took a semester studying his style. I’d also have to say Chet Baker…Miles Davis…and more recently, Billy Strings – I saw him at the Hinterland festival in Iowa this summer and I was just blown away. I’ve been diving into the bluegrass world and how it’s a different take on improvisation that I haven’t studied.

ME: That’s awesome dude! What are you working on now?

JEFF: Currently I’m playing in a rock band called Fading Places with Eric Hess and we’re about to get started with gigging. He’s also helping me record my EP so I’m super happy about that; we made a quick friendship. The big thing for me as an artist is that I’m writing my own stuff now; I was really good with school and learning standards of music but the real challenge as an artist for me has been writing my own stuff that really hits from home. It’ll be a big step for me to share this EP and I’m looking forward to it.

Visit Dusty Pockets’ Facebook page here.

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